Ray's Weekly Sports Electronics Mailbag
Written by: Ray Maker
Date: Mon Sep 27 2010
The mailbag has moved though - from my little place on the web, over here to Slowtwitch. So if you enjoy what you find here, then feel free to click the links to find even more in depth information on each topic. And if you have any questions, you can always e-mail me directly. Thanks for reading!
This week's mailbag covers the following topics:
1) Garmin Forerunner 305 and Walk/Run Tracking
2) MetriGear Vector - wait or buy?
3) Using Computerized Trainers over the Internet
Question #1: Garmin Forerunner 305 and Walk/Run Tracking
"In preparation for my first marathon (Disney 2011), I came across your website while searching for the best GPS watch. I am planning on going with the running a mile / walking a minute method.
I've figured out how to do this with my Forerunner 305; however, it doesn't count the minute walk as part of the mile. I.e. After the first mile, I walk for a minute. Now, I'm at 1.1 miles. Then the watch beeps again a mile later at 2.1 miles. After a minute, I'm at 2.2. A mile later it beeps at 3.2 miles, and so on.
I'm wondering if you know of a setting so that it beeps every mile, but includes my minute walk. I.e. I want to run a mile and have the alarm go off. Then walk one minute. Then have the watch beep at the 2 mile point. Then I'll walk a minute. Then beep again at the three mile point."
Hi Kevin! While my initial thought was to delve into setting up a really complex working purely in Garmin Training Center (GTC), after a bit of investigation - I think that the simplest answer and most easiest to implement is actually just Garmin's Auto-Lap feature.
The Auto-Lap feature will automatically create a lap (and make a sound) whenever you cross the predetermined lap threshold. By default, this is every 1-mile (but you can change that to kilometers, or different distances). So, this would have it automatically create a lap at Mile 1, Mile 2, etc… regardless of how much of that is walking or running. This way you'll only need to track the time you've spent walking once it beeps the mile lap. The easiest way to take care of this is simply change one of the display fields to 'Lap Time', which will show minutes and seconds for that lap - thus allowing you to easily track that first 60 seconds of talking time.
Good luck at Disney!
Question #2: MetriGear Vector - wait or buy?
"Have you ever looked into the Vector from MetriGear as a Cycling Power meter? It promises to be quite revolutionary given no need for installing a new hub but just goes in pedal. Not out yet, but I was wondering whether you had looked at it in the past. I really want to train with power but I really don't want to buy new training and racing wheels… I already use SpeedPlay pedals, so that helps."
Hi Manlio! While you sent this prior to Garmin's announcement of their acquisition of MetriGear last week, now we have a bit more information about the larger picture.
For those not familiar with the whole story - MetriGear is/was a small startup company working to develop a pedal based power meter that would be easily swappable between bikes. They haven't been alone in this pursuit though - with three other ANT+ companies also working on such efforts. Though, it seems as though from the ANT+ side MetriGear was/is closest to market with their product.
However, the long term power meter landscape changed pretty dramatically with Garmin's announcement that they were acquiring MetriGear and intended to bring Vector to market. But what hasn't changed is the landscape for the next 6-9 months. The only other pedal based option on the 'nearing manufacturing' radar is the Look/Polar combo - with their predictions of Spring 2011. However, as I've commented in the past - I think that's fairly optimistic, and that also matched many of the opinions of power meter industry folks I talked with at Interbike.
On the MetriGear front, Garmin and MetriGear have been incredibly good at not communicating any dates around availability. But in my long discussions Clark Foy of MetriGear and Jake Jacobson of Garmin it was made abundantly clear that they intend to leverage Garmin's existing engineering and manufacturing resources to bring the product to market as fast as possible. And more importantly - to bring it to market at a price point that will 'make power as common as GPS is in running today'.
So - if you need a power meter today, then go out and look at an SRM, Quarq or PowerTap. If you don't need it until next fall - then you might want to wait. Personally, I bought a Quarq Cinqo - and absolutely love it, and the companies customer service. But any ANT+ connected device will give you tons of options and flexibility for the future.
Question #3: Using Computerized Trainers over the Internet
Question from Maggs-
"A few of us were talking this morning about CompuTrainer type trainers. I know there are some places where you can get together and 'race' each other on them. Is there anyway to do it online? I know you can play video games online vs your friends, I think it would be awesome if you could do a 'race' online with your friends in training."
Hi Maggs! There are indeed a few different options here. As you noted, the first option is actual 'centers' that you can go to, such as the CompuTrainer centers, or Tacx centers. However, in the case of the CompuTrainer centers, this requires that all folks competing be in the same room and connected to the same multi-rider system.
However, the Tacx system doesn't have such a limitation. With their multi-rider setup you can not only do it in groups at a dedicated facility like the CompuTrainer - but you can also do it out of your own house… via the Internet - even if one person is in Hawaii, and another in Holland. This is perhaps one of the coolest things about the TACX system. I had a chance to play with it at Interbike last week, and posted some of my comments and initial thoughts here. Though, Tacx does charge an annual fee for this, it's fairly minimal at about $50 (well, minimal compared to how much we all spend on triathlon gear anyway…).
Finally - there's also been some work with Golden Cheetah (a free cycling app) that allows for streaming ANT+ data from your bike and a standard trainer via a computer and would allow you to 'race' each other - but there isn't really an equalizing factor to cancel out which gearing your in versus your competitor. Here's a quick YouTube video showing how it works.
So in short, the best option out there today for multiplayer via the Internet is the TACX trainer.
Weekly Mailbag - September 21st, 2010
- Sport Tracks 3.0 Review
- CompuTrainer or Power Meter
- Fixing Garmin Edge 500/705 rubber cover
Weekly Mailbag - September 15th, 2010
- Vector from MetriGear Status?
- New version of Garmin 310XT?
- Wearing the Heart Rate strap in the water during a race?
- How far does ANT+ signal go?
You can find all past mailbags here.
[Editor's note: our capable editor-at-large for electronics Ray Maker is the publisher of the online sports tech blog DC Rainmaker, one of the top-ranked sites by Google for extremely in-depth reviews of advanced GPS and Heart Rate Monitors for triathlon, cycling, and running.]
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